Look, everyone needs to back up for a minute, climb the ladder, and look at the Broncos from 1000 feet away.
Yeah, QBs are the most visible and high profile players in any sport. And having Tebow on the roster, especially, makes it hard to think about other things beyond the QB situation. But we have no idea if Tebow is good, great, or crappy. NO IDEA. How could we?
Well, here’s what we do know:
We know that Denver was a top 10 passing team last year. Sure, that was mostly in McD’s offense, but Denver did just fine in the passing game last year in the big picture. However, Denver couldn’t run for #@#% last year. They were a bottom 7 rushing team. So that needs work. On the other hand, Denver’s Defense wasn’t as duplicitous. They just plain sucked. They ranked bottom 8 in passing yards allowed and second to last in rushing yards allowed.
So Denver’s offense isn’t in the same HOLY $#@% shape that the Defense is in, but the running offense needs work. And the Defense literally needs to be reconfigured and built from scratch. The project on defense is at least a 2 YEAR PROJECT.
Here is what I think :
Doom is back. That’s huge for the defense.
And we’re going to a 4-3. That’s better for the personnel we have. That said, we'll spend 50% of the time in Nickel anyway, so let's not bunch up our undies over defensive configurations.
There are AWESOME blue-chip DT’s ripe for the picking at #2, which is wonderful considering that I don’t think that Denver has 2 starter caliber DTs ON THE ROSTER TODAY.
We still have Champ, Dawk, Hill, Goody, and Cox (cue Law & Order sound) or Syd in the secondary, meaning that we don’t HAVE TO draft a DBack in the 1st round or maybe even the second round.
We still have DJ, but we do need to fill our other 2 LB spots. Who knows, maybe Mays wins the MLB role and Haggan wins a rotational spot, but I’d say that Denver needs at least 1 LB in the draft and 1 in FA.
On offense, we need a real pro (like our new OL coach) to evaluate Walton, Beadles, and Harris. Denver may need 1 to 2 new players on the line. I hope at least 1 is a FA who is a known quantity because we need an INSTANT OL upgrade.
At RB, Denver needs a legit starting caliber RB who is a KNOWN quantity. DeAngelo? Gawd, I sure hope so. But I’m not drafting a RB if I’m Denver, I'm adding a FA.
At WR Denver seems solid.
At QB, Denver needs evaluation and time. Orton’s not worth ~$9M this year if he’s gone next season, and barring catastrophic career ending injuries to all other QBs on the roster, I doubt Orton is a Bronco in 2012. So, trading Orton before the season is highly likely, even if that means for a roster player or a 2012 pick. Either way is fine by me. Its not like we’re gonna win the SB this year - we need players next offseason too. Tebow needs to play in live action so we can see if he's any good. And yes - he has to do a better job in the passing game to prove that he belongs in the league. Accuracy is easily excused only playing 3 games (Elway stearted 10 games as a rookie and completed 47.8% of his passes), but it must improve 5 to 10 points. As far as the depth chart for the QB goes: who cares! Quinn is a career backup. I’m not shocked if Denver drafts a backup QB with upside seeing as how Quinn has NONE. The top flight QBs in the 2011 NFL draft are ABSOUTELY NOT more of a sure thing than Tebow. Why waste a top choice on that? You don't. I'm not even entertaining that discussion. Because it's STUPID.
Here’s a statement that I believe: Tebow is PROBABLY NOT an elite QB.
But I don’t know that. In fact, I hope he is because I want my kids to grow up and idolize a dude like him, rather than a smug whiner like Cutty or a nutjob like VY. Bur more importantly, I don't want my kid to come home from school asking for a Mark Sanchez jersey someday because the Jets are good and the Broncos suck. We all like winning. Its harder to watch a guy you like lose than it is to watch a guy that you don't care about win.
In the long run, Denver needs to work their way into a position where the defense if good to great and they can run the ball consistently and especially in short yardage situations. Teams like the Steelers, Ravens, Giants, Jets, and Bears are good most every year because they play good (or better) D and can run the ball with consistency. We’ll figure out the QB spot when we figure it out. It’s ABSOLUTELY NOT the most imporatant thing.
And don't give me the line of BS that 'Look at all the playoff teams, they all have good QBs'. What makes a Qb 'good'? Duh, Winning (Thanks Charlie Sheen). If the QB is a starter for a playoff team and they get there most years, yes, that QB will be considered 'good'. But, let me ask you this: Is Mark Sanchez good? Is Eli Manning good? Is Jay Cutler good? Is Matt Cassell good?
Sure, Manning and Brady are REALLY good but...
Manning is a once in lifetime kind of player. Denver will never have Peyton Manning. Or anything like him. He was the obvious #1 pick. The Colts HAD to take him. They deserve NO credit for drafting Manning. If the Colts deserve anything, it’s consternation for their lack of Super Bowls. They have not done an adequate job of putting together a strong enough team or coaching staff to rival Bellichick, Tomlin, or even Ryan. Denver isn’t getting a Peyton Manning anytime soon. The chances Denver gets a Manning someday are like BFSD's lottery odds.
And Brady was pure effing luck. He magically turned into the modern Joe Montana. Argue system all you want, but he’s very, very good and pretty clutch. Denver isn’t getting a Brady anytime soon. Same odds.
Big Ben and Aaron Rodgers are very good NFL QBs, but they were excellent college QBs (Duh). Its rare (but not as rare as finding a Manning or Brady) to have a QB in this mold. Elway was in this mold. The best Tebow will ever be is in this mold. And that’s good enough for me. But to be successful with QBs in this mold, you MUST MUST MUST have at VERY LEAST an elite Running Game or Defense or Both!
Look at Elway. The AFC was AWFUL in the 80’s. But he was good enough to get them through the playoffs but when they played teams that were actually talented and well coached, they got dominated. It wasn’t until Denver had a decent defense and a dominant running game that Elway won a ring. The last time Denver was 'good'? They had a very good D and a very good running game. And Jake Plummer. Big Ben isn’t good enough to win without a great D and a good running game. Big Ben didn't win those 2 rings by himself, in fact in 2006 he was GAWD AWFUL in that Super Bowl. Aaron Rodgers isn’t good enough to win a ring without that defense GB had this year. And Cutler sure as $#@& isn’t good enough on his own to get a team to a NFC Championship without that Defense. Eli isn’t even close to good enough to win the ring he won in 2007 without that running game and that defense, and the same goes for the Ravens. I’m not sure Flacco’s even good enough for that team to reach the height that they want to reach before their defense completely crumbles (and it is definitely showing cracks).
The Steelers/Packers/Bears/Giants/Ravens model is the one that John Fox intends to build. Good running team, good defense, and hopefully a good QB can be added to the mix. That’s the easiest path to continuous success in the NFL. Not the Pats or the Colts model. That’s super-rare and a lot of little things need to go right/wrong to end up where those two franchises have been and I’m not betting that Denver ends up like those two teams. The probability is astronomically low that Denver ends up like the Pats or Colts.
So lets root for Denver to be a consitent playoff team. They can make sure they are consistent by building a good defensive team and a strong running game. It's do-able.
I know we all man crush on QBs, but like I said above, the players available in the draft this year at QB are no more of a sure thing than a guy we already have under contract. Denver will have to find 'that guy' in the future if our current guy isn't 'it'. That's how it works. You can't forego building a team because you're looking for a franchise QB.